• TheDMonline.com Staff Member?
  • Log In
Share |

Chevrolet Spark comes to U.S. shores for 2012

Photo Courtesy GM Media

 

The Chevrolet Spark will arrive in the United States and Canada in 2012 as a 2013 model. Chevrolet’s mini-car has been sold in Europe and South Korea since 2010, where it has seen modest success.

The Spark is built in South Korea by GM Korea which was formerly Daewoo (remember those?) and is meant to appeal, as all mini-cars are, to young urban dwellers.  

What makes the Spark different from other mini-cars is that it has four doors, while still maintaining its compact size, making it much more practical. To put its size in perspective, it is only four inches longer than a Fiat 500 and exactly three feet shorter than the Chevrolet Cruze.

The U.S. will receive the bigger of the two engines that are available in Europe, which is the 1.2-liter DOHC four-cylinder that has all of 83 horsepower. EPA ratings haven’t been released yet, but you can expect highway MPG to be in the low 40’s range based on European test cycles. 

The engine will be mated to a five-speed manual transmission or an optional automatic transmission whose specifications have not been released, but it would be nice if it could borrow the six-speed automatic that comes with the Chevrolet’s subcompact Sonic.

The styling has been revised for the American market with changes to the front fascia, which include a new grille and headlights, as well changes in the rear such as a new spoiler and modified taillamps. 

There have also been some minor enhancements to the interior to appeal more to American tastes such as better seat materials and provisions for a premium sound system.

Pricing has yet to be announced for the Spark, but it should be cheaper than Chevrolet’s current smallest car, the Sonic, which starts at $13,735 for the sedan. This would put it cheaper than both the Fiat 500 and Smart Fortwo, but I doubt it will be any cheaper than the Nissan Versa sedan, which starts at $10,990. This puts it in a tough position because it doesn’t have the practicality of the Versa or the cuteness of the Fiat 500. 

Bringing the Spark to the U.S. is a risky move for Chevrolet because mini-cars have historically not sold well here in the U.S. After all, we are the fattest people in the world.  

Take the Smart Fortwo for instance, who’s sales for 2010 dropped 62 percent to a mere 4800 units. 

I have no doubt that the Spark will outsell the Smart, but it is going to be a real challenge to sell enough to justify making and shipping them from South Korea while keeping the price competitive.

Of course, I could be completely wrong, and the Spark could be a great profit-center for Chevrolet if they can persuade the youth market that it is a cool yet economical urban vehicle.